Running the government of the Palestinian Authority will not deflect Hamas from its overriding goal of pursuing liberation from Israeli occupation, said Khaled Meshal, the leader-in-exile of the Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, in Damascus, Syria.
"Being in power is only a means to an end for Hamas," Khaled Meshal told a memorial gathering for a deceased Palestinian politician on Thursday night. "Power is not our ultimate goal.

"If it becomes one, let power go to hell. It will not hold us back from our targets which we hold dear," he said.

"We and the Zionists have a date with destiny. If they want a fight, we are ready for it. If they want a war, we are the sons of war. If they want a struggle, we are for it to the end," the Damascus-based leader Meshal declared.

"We have more stamina than Israel and we will defeat it, God willing," he said.

He also criticized the Fatah party, which was the ruling party for its interim peace deals with Israel in the 1990s that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Those who talked about setting up a state before liberation lost both country and land," Meshaal said. "A country can only exist on liberated land."

Hamas rejected the 1993 Oslo accord and later Israel-PLO agreements which were never fully implemented and which have unravelled further since a Palestinian uprising began in 2000.

Meshal upheld the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to the homes they lost in the 1948 war – an issue that has been a sticking point in past peace negotiations.

"I tell all the Palestinians: you will return to your homeland and nobody will stop you," he said.

"Our fate is to combine resistance and politics, but resistance remains the basis and politics only a branch."